“How famous are you?”

“Where do you see The National in 50 years?”

“Do you have your wallets on stage with you?”

These are a few of the brilliantly awkward questions posed by Tom Berninger, the documentarian and accidental protagonist of Mistaken For Strangers, a movie nobody set out to make.

The Goofus to his rock star brother Matt’s Gallant, Tom wants to be a horror film maestro, but is stalling creatively, and has been hired to be a roadie for the world tour his brother’s band, Ohio & Brooklyn’s The National, is setting out on.

Intended to be footage for The National’s website, Mistaken is instead the Between Two Ferns of rock docs, with a number of scenes where Tom is trying to stage “cool shots” of the band, and ask downright ludicrous questions. But whereas Galifianakis (and other mock interviewers, like Narduwar and Sacha Baron Cohen) are intentionally trolling their subjects, this is the best Tom can do. Whether or not his best is an attempt to ask the questions nobody’s ever asked, Tom winds up creating the most cringe-worthy moments seen since Ricky Gervais’ The Office. The film, screened tonight at New York City’s IFC Center, featured a post-screening Q&A with the brothers Berninger. This event generated a few choice moments, and we got to see a still-awkward, but slightly more confident Tom.

When I asked about unused footage, Tom claimed there was an estimated 200 hours of recorded footage. Much of it, though, is footage of hairy gut/crotch from forgetting the camera was on. Matt claimed that as bad as their confrontations got in the footage shown, Tom “was kind with his portrayal of me. He was easy on me.”

When asked by a member of the audience if he’s changed his mind and now feels confident enough to have a girlfriend, Tom stayed true to himself and awkwardly said something to the effect of, “I’ve got a lot of video games to play first.”

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